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Husband using legal loophole to dodge equitable distribution

The law can be tricky sometimes, as we’re sure our readers know all too well. That’s because it’s an ever-changing landscape filled with laws and loopholes we may or may not be aware of. It’s because of this that most people get help from knowledgeable lawyers when it comes to their legal issues.

But as our California readers will soon see, there are some legal issues that can even leave skilled attorneys arguing over the finer points of the law. With the help of a case out of New Jersey, our San Francisco readers will see how a small loophole in the state’s law could leave one woman without the equitable distribution she is expecting from her divorce.

The reason the woman in this case is concerned about getting an unfair distribution of marital assets is because of a loophole that was pointed out by her husband after she filed for divorce. According to the state’s law, a marriage license must be issued prior to taking part in a marriage ceremony. Because the couple was married 16 days before the license was issued, the husband contends that the couple should not be considered legally married or subject to divorce laws.

If the courts agree with this assessment and deem the 20-year marriage to have been nothing more than a lengthy relationship, then property division laws may not apply to their separation. And because her husband has a rather large income — in 2012, his income was more than $6.6 million — it’s possible that the soon-to-be ex-wife could miss out on a considerable fraction of her husband’s assets.

Even though California may have different laws than New Jersey, this case highlights an important takeaway for our readers and that is that the law can be both your best friend and your worst enemy at times. And especially in high-asset divorces, where there is a lot at stake, this can create contentious legal situations that may require extensive help in order to reach a resolution.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Son of Minnesota Vikings Part-Owner Says He Wasn’t Legally Married to His Wife,” Yoni Bashan and Heather Haddon, Sept. 18, 2014

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